The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has reached a major milestone after receiving approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to implement a special provision that allows a $10 per hour training incentive to prime contractors who hire graduates of IDOT's Highway Construction Careers Training Program to work on federally funded projects. The incentive already was in place for state-funded projects. Illinois is one of the few states to receive federal approval for a pre-apprenticeship program of this kind.
"Illinois is committed to continuing to strengthen our transportation network and we are proud to be one of the states to receive this important recognition," said Governor Pat Quinn. "Federal approval of our innovative Highway Construction Careers Training Program is good news for our efforts to increase hiring diversity and help graduates find jobs."
The Highway Construction Careers Training Program was created in 2009 to improve access to highway construction training and employment opportunities for minorities, women and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The program, conducted by 10 community colleges throughout the state, consists of eight to ten weeks of hands-on training designed to impart the critical math and construction skills necessary for graduates to succeed in the workplace.
"We appreciate the support of the Federal Highway Administration and are confident this incentive will help expand the workforce and ensure more inclusion," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. "We encourage prime contractors to take advantage of this opportunity to gain an incentive and give these committed and hard-working graduates a chance at a rewarding career."
Of the 613 graduates since the program started, 75 have landed jobs in the construction industry or apprenticeships in construction trades. Over the last year, the diverse group of program graduates have come from the following institutions: 52 from Dawson Technical Institute of Kennedy-King College in Chicago, 51 from Rock Valley College in Rockford, 55 from Kankakee Community College in Kankakee, 70 from Illinois Central College in East Peoria, 69 from Parkland College in Champaign, 83 from Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, 71 from Lake Land College in Mattoon, 52 from Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, 30 from Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey and 80 from John A. Logan College in Carterville.
At a time when many states have been unable to invest in transportation infrastructure, Governor Quinn is leading the largest capital program in the state's history, the six-year, $31 billion Illinois Job Now! Of the $14 billion in the program dedicated for transportation needs, $10.7 billion has been spent on projects that have improved 6,426 miles of roadway and 961 bridges. Since Illinois Jobs Now! passed in 2009, the program has created or supported more than 140,000 jobs.
Under the leadership of Governor Quinn, IDOT has started or expanded several programs to encourage and increase minority and female participation in the construction industry. Last year, IDOT launched the Target Market Program, which reserves specific projects for bidding by minority- and women-owned firms. Other initiatives under Governor Quinn include opening resource centers in each of IDOT's nine districts for firms interested in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program and establishing the first federally approved Mentor Protégé Program to partner prime contractors with qualified minority- and women-owned firms interested in expanding their businesses.
For more information on the Highway Construction Careers Training Program and similar initiatives, please visit IDOT's Diversity Matters.